Still Fresh As The Morning Dew Forty Years Later
What event could captivate a personís heart, leaving an indelible impression for forty years, while retaining details as though they happened yesterday? If you have ever experienced a heaven-sent outpouring of Godís holy power, you have the answer! It is as you have probably heard it said, "Your life will never be the same."
My husband Charles and I traveled in evangelism for about ten years so we thought we were pretty experienced in revival. We had what I would call "good meetings" and many came to know Christ.
Then in 1963 we received a call to come to California to pastor. After pastoring three years there, it seemed like we were trying to pull the church along and it didnít move, like we were trying to move without any oil. We came to realize we had not had one seeker in our church for eighteen months. Unsaved people came, but they didnít come forward to be saved. There was much friction between church members. We felt ready to "throw in the towel." My husband said, "I would give anything if I could get "a drinkÖfrom the well" (quoting Davidís words in 2 Samuel 23:15).
There were three women in the church who had been praying together for quite some time and asking God to send revival. One morning on the way out of church, one lady said to my husband, "Pastor, we have been praying for revival and God is going to send it." My husband thought, "In this church? Never."
Then came October 15, 1967. The Sunday evening service was about to close in an ordinary way. But all of a sudden people started coming forward. One of the men called my husband over to where he was kneeling, and he said, "Pastor, I have to ask your forgiveness. Iíve been talking about you. I want you to forgive me, and I have to do that before I can pray." My husband said, "Man, youíre forgiven. Go ahead and pray!"
There were about a dozen who came forward. After that altar service, the visiting friend of ours who had preached that evening said, "How many of you people here have been praying for revival?" and some raised their hand. And he said, "Why donít you quit praying about it and have one? If youíre really sincere about it, meet me here at 6 oíclock tomorrow morning."
The next morning we had about forty-five people show up, all ages, and we prayed. Our friend said, "Letís meet tonight for service." This had been unannounced. Monday night we came for a service, and there was something different; the atmosphere seemed electrified, and we hadnít experienced anything like that. In that service, God began to do some mighty, powerful things that we had never seen before.
One of the things God sent was absolute, true conviction. People would walk in the door and their sins would come before them. They came in like they were the best Christians in the world, but their hearts were not right with God, and He would convict them greatly. That happened on that Monday night. God says in His Word, that the Holy Spirit will "convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment" (John 16:8). Part of the congregation didnít like it because they knew they would have their sins exposed. In revival the Holy Spirit is unpredictable. We canít put Him in a box. We thought we knew what revival was about because we had been evangelists for ten years, but it is altogether different in a Holy Ghost-sent revival. It is like Dennis Kinlaw said about the revival at Asbury, "God stepped out of heaven."
And He came in like a bulldozer. He didnít come in like a quiet dove. He started with the elders. They had to stand before the audience and confess their sins publicly. They were willing to do it because God brought such conviction that they had to in order to have peace of heart and mind. Beads of perspiration stood out on the foreheads of grown men in confession and praying. All that mattered to them was getting right with God. God dealt with our pride. It took humility on the part of all. That deep conviction is the difference between revival and a regular meeting.
God started with the elders of the church, at the top, and worked His way down. The children had waited to see their parents get right with God. They knew that there was hypocrisy in the home. You donít fool children. When the parents began to get right and make restitution and apologize to their children, the children said, "There is something to this!" It was astounding what God did with the children.
We began to have three services a day and that continued for about five weeks. We met for prayer at 6 oíclock, and again at 10, and then pre-service prayer meeting before the evening service. Services averaged about three hours. The revival didnít stop at five weeks. It went on for about five years.
People were saved. Some came in off the streets. In our city there were three military bases. One of the young men attending our church was a navy man. He was at the bus station, and there were two prostitutes there who propositioned him. That night in the service, two girls walked into the church, straight down the aisle to where we were having prayer and they received the Lord as Savior. The sailor told us they were the prostitutes who had talked to him at the bus station. A drunk came in, and God sobered him up and saved him and delivered him from alcohol. The children would go out on the sidewalk and pass out tracts and invite people to come in and they would come. Some came from other cities as the news got around about the revival. When people started making restitution around the town, then people knew that something was happening. It was not just saying, "Iím sorry." They said, "Iíve got to make it right."
Children on Fire for God
You donít have to preach a sermon on witnessing when you have revival. People canít keep quiet about it. A little 7-year-old girl in the second grade won 23 children to the Lord out on the playground. She wouldnít let them just say a little prayer. She made them kneel on the playground to get saved. My son, who was about 9 or 10, stayed after school one night to meet with his teacher. She wanted to know more about the Lordís coming and about being saved, and he led his teacher to the Lord. The children were so on fire for the Lord. It wasnít that we told them to witness; they couldnít keep quiet.
They, too, began to go back and make restitution. Their parents would take them from store to store where they had stolen things. There were two x-rated movie places the city said couldnít be legally shut down, but prayer and going there and witnessing and sharing Christ resulted in their closing down in time.
We had some opposition in the church. They campaigned and in a year and a half my husband was put out of his pulpit. He had told God, "You can take anything I have if You will just send revival. Once more I want to see the power of God at work." God took him up on it. He not only lost his pulpit, but he lost his reputation, because our colleagues got so they didnít want to talk with us. They couldnít understand us. The pastor who came to replace my husband didnít know how to handle a revived church, and he resigned in a year and a half. They called my husband back to pastor. When we went back it was like we had never lost a day. We picked up right where we left off and he had a wonderful time pastoring a revived church. The opposition left when they found out he was coming back.
Looking for Godís Glory and Presence
We were not looking for manifestations. We were looking for God and the glory of His presence. That is what filled our hearts Ė just for one time to see the glory of His presence. There is no substitute. There is nothing in this world that can ever satisfy outside of that.
We saw many salvations and many lives changed. There were healings. Before we closed our service we had what we called "the glory circle." Anyone could come and pray in the circle. A boy about eight years of age, who had never spoken a word in his life, was brought from Los Angeles about sixty miles away. The parents asked us to pray for him. After we had prayed for this little boy, I said to him, "Say ĎJesus.í" And he said, "Jesus." It electrified his parents and the congregation. Then I said, "Say ĎJesus healed me.í" And he said, "Jesus healed me." They took him back home and they registered him in regular public school and he went on to school after that.
Another time, in the church nursery there was a baby between six and nine months old who stopped breathing. The nursery attendant became very frightened because the baby was turning blue. She rushed out of the nursery to the front of the church where we were praying. My husband took the baby in his arms and lifted up his little leg, and it was limp. The baby was nearly gone. We prayed for him and almost instantly the life came back into him.
After we experienced all of this, we began to hear about similar happenings in other places. A pastor friend of ours and his wife were on vacation and they were at Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky on the Sunday after revival came there in February 1970. They sent us a cassette tape in the mail. We hadnít listened to that tape three minutes until we looked at each other and the tears came to our eyes. "The same thing has happened at Asbury, and maybe theyíll have a better reputation," we said.
God sent out people from Asbury. Two young men came to Los Angeles. They came to Church of Christ Unity. We attended that service and God moved the same way there. God poured out His Spirit. Our son was only about twelve, and he spoke at the church, a huge church. The two young men from Asbury gave a simple message and issued an invitation and nearly everyone in that church went forward. The pastor became converted, and the church was given a new name. In Habakkuk 1:5 it says, "Look at the nations and watch Ė and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told." And in Habakkuk 2:2-3 we read: "Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay."
I believe there will yet be a greater outpouring and I hope I live to see it. Since we cannot manufacture it, we reach out for it through prayer and obedience. I believe these are the keys. It may be just a small thing that God asks one person to do that brings revival. He is waiting for opportunity. And very rarely will revival come to a church without the pastorís support. The pastor is a key man.
It would take hours to tell how the Spirit of God manifested Himself through miracles of transformed lives, healings, reconciliations and spiritual renewal. The revival is still alive in the hearts of many. Thatís why we will celebrate October 15, 2007 marking forty years since our lives were drastically changed by Godís miraculous power!
Eleanor McKinney is the wife of retired pastor Charles McKinney.